Why “wireless only” is such a threat to Emergency Notification Systems

It’s no secret that the conventional landline telephone is headed to extinction.

Using some of the same data we study, USTelecom – a telecom trade association – projects that “switched landline” phones will be present in only about 25% of US household by the end of the year.  Many of the remaining households have some other kind of landline – mostly VOIP phones.  But USTelecom thinks that 43% of homes will be “wireless only” by the end of 2013.

Here’s another scary number.  At current growth rates, by the end of the decade, we project that less than 15% of households will have a landline of any kind.

Emergency notification systems that call or text people depend on getting their phone numbers from the local phone company, but these numbers are usually only available for landlines.  Without the wireless numbers, a large and growing percentage of the population is going to be missed.

To offset this problem, almost every community has a local registration page for citizens to provide their numbers.  But these pages – and the marketing campaigns that promote them – usually get less than 10% of the population.  And that’s generous.  One ENS provider’s statistics imply a sign-up rate of about 2%.

Missing 40% or more of the population is simply not acceptable.  This is why we’re totally focused on finding solutions to the “wireless-only” problem.

Wireless Emergency Alerts” are a good start, but limited.  There’s much more that needs to be done.

County Estimates Available for “Wireless Substitution”

We’re offering some data that we think will be helpful to county public safety folks.  It provides county-level estimates showing the percentage of people that don’t have a landline phone at home.

You can read the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10832055.htm.

We think this can be really useful in assessing the reach of telephone-based emergency notification systems.   And beyond the assessment, figuring out how to solve the problem of reaching “wireless only” households.

It’s a complex problem, and one we’ll be exploring in the next many blog posts.

In the meantime, if you are a public safety agency, the data is free.  It shows what we think is the percentage of folks in your county that do not have a landline phone and how that compares to your state and the US.  And how it will change from now to 2015.

Just drop us an email with your county and agency name and we’ll send you the report.  The address is jveilleux@ashergroup.com.

 

Emergency Notifiers to Send Out Warnings in RecordTime™; Hyper-Reach Releases New Feature to Speed Alerts to Public

(PRWEB) May 02, 2013

To speed the delivery of urgent emergency notifications to the public, Hyper-Reach has developed RecordTime, a feature that allows public safety agencies to record the messages they want to send as quickly as possible to hundreds or thousands of telephones within a community.  The new feature provides a “record” button within the application, allowing a user to simply click, speak and send the newly recorded message, saving precious minutes and maximizing the effectiveness of emergency notification systems.

When emergency situations happen, public safety agencies usually have no time to lose.  Even a few seconds in time can be the difference between saving or losing a human life.  That’s why Hyper-Reach has released its newest advance in public notification systems called RecordTime.

RecordTime is a powerful new feature that allows agencies to send out mass audio messages by directly recording them on an agency’s PC work station and then sending those messages instantly.  With RecordTime, public safety personnel simply click a button on the Hyper-Reach dashboard to record and – using the microphone attached to the PC – record the message they want to send.  The recording is immediately stored and available to be used for notification calls to hundreds or thousands of people.

Before RecordTime, most public safety agencies using an emergency notification system would need to record a message, save it as a file, store it in the system and then send the message.  The entire process might take five minutes or longer, depending on the emergency notification provider.  Alternatively, some systems provide for recording using the telephone by calling a recording system.  In addition to the time involved in that process, recording by telephone can reduce the audio quality and make some recordings more difficult to understand.  RecordTime removes all these limitations and lets the agency click, speak and send the message in just seconds.

“We’re very excited about this new capability,” said Ricky Slack, 911 Director for Smith County, Tennessee.  “We love the Hyper-Reach system and have used it extensively during tornadoes and other emergencies.  We really use it on a daily basis and have integrated it into our internal operations.  So being able to speed up the message creation and delivery process enhances what is already a great system.”

Hyper-Reach is a state-of-the-art emergency mass  notification system designed specifically for public safety officials.  The system sends thousands of telephone calls, SMS text messages and emails to geographically targeted households in seconds.  A new feature, called Hyper-Reach Express, works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send broadcast messages to all mobile telephones in an affected area.

To find out more about Hyper-Reach and RecordTime, send email to info(at)ashergroup(dot)com or call the company at 855-266-8439.

 About Hyper-Reach

Hyper-Reach (http://www.hyper-reach.com) has over 12 years of experience in emergency messaging via its mass notification system.  Hyper-Reach sends messages via automated telephone calls, text messaging (SMS), email, and social media, such as Twitter.  Messages can be created by local personnel or automatically sent, depending on the emergency.  Other uses of Hyper-Reach include Amber alerts, toxic chemical warnings, and armed shooter alerts.  In addition to 911 centers, Hyper-Reach is used by law enforcement, educational institutions, and corporations.

For more information about Hyper-Reach, go to http://www.hyper-reach.com or call 855-266-8439 (855 2-NOTIFY).

 

 

 

 

 

This Week in Emergency Notification

We subscribe to a number of news services that give us stories about emergency notification throughout the US and the world.

And since some of it is interesting, this seems like a good opportunity to share.

Here’s the best of what we saw this week, which, coincidentally, was  National Severe Weather Preparedness Week:

– If you haven’t heard already, a Washington, PA city councilman put “Brian is gay” out on the local emergency alert system.  This story even made the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.   No word yet on whether “Brian” has responded;

 – A town in CO used their ENS to tell folks to stay in their homes during an arrest gone awry.  The messages were sent around 1AM on 2/23 as police sought a suspect who fired at officers, led police on a chase, and fled off on foot.

– A new service in India lets people text to a special number, which then dials a pre-defined list of 10 friends and family.

– Rand Paul’s filibuster was supposedly interrupted by an emergency alert.  Apparently the EAS alert was not about a drone strike, which was part of Paul’s reason for the 13 hour marathon speech;

– A 30-page report details the failures of emergency alert systems in the Waldo Canyon fire in CO.   About 40% of the messages went to voicemail and answering machines.

– We announced a program designed to help offset the Federal budget cuts called “sequestration”.  For 2013, we’ll guarantee 25% savings vs. any comparable ENS system to any government agency.

Hyper-Reach Selects Grant Recipients for Public Mass Notification System


Twelve  Agencies throughout the US Selected to Study Use of New FEMA System


February 20, 2013//Rochester, NY

Mass notifications systems are used by public safety agencies to warn citizens about local emergencies, hazards and other threats, calling huge numbers of telephones in just a few minutes time.  But these systems are only available to about half of agencies in the US, and the shift from landline to mobile telephones is cutting down the effectiveness of existing systems.  Hyper-Reach – an emergency notification system provider in Rochester, NY – is working to overcome the limits of existing systems and increase the use and reach of a new Federal government notification system focused on mobile telephones.

Hyper-Reach is pleased to announce that twelve public safety agencies from Maine to Oregon have been selected for a grant program that will allow unlimited emergency notification messages to mobile phones.  The program provides access to the Integrated Public Awareness System (IPAWS) and a subsystem called the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), developed by the Department of Homeland Security. These systems must be accessed through specialized software, and the Hyper-Reach grants will provide that access through the rest of 2013 and early 2014.

The grant program provides a year of Hyper-Reach access service to send messages through the IPAWS/CMAS system.  Once approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the selected agencies will be able to send out alerts to warn citizens of many kinds of emergencies, including floods, evacuation notices, environmental dangers and other situations.

IPAWS/CMAS messages provide special capabilities not available through other emergency notification media.  They are broadcast text messages, which go to every qualified mobile phone in range of a selected broadcast area.  Because they are broadcast, the messages are sent immediately and do not depend on prior registration of cell phone numbers.  Visitors to an area, college students and others who would typically not register for emergency notification can be reached through IPAWS/CMAS messages.

The grants were awarded to obtain a diverse sample of geography, demographics and other factors.  Communities selected for these grants range in size from Barnes County, ND (population 11,056) to the state of Texas (population 22 million.)  Grantees include urban areas, such as Flint, MI and rural areas, such as Carroll County, MD.  In total, over 27 million people will be served by the messages sent by grantees.

“It’s great to be selected for this grant program,” said James Weed, Sr., Emergency Management Division Coordinator in Carroll County, MD, one of the grant recipients.  “Being able to reach young people with mobile phones as well as visitors during a crisis adds a lot to our emergency alert capabilities.”

“We’re thrilled to be of service to these communities”, said Sam Asher, President of Hyper-Reach.  “We were so excited, we expanded the list of grantees from the original ten to twelve.  In addition to the research results, it’s gratifying to know that we can play a small part in helping citizens protect themselves.”

The full list of grantees is:

Barnes County Emergency Management, Valley City, ND
Carroll County Emergency Management Division, Westminster, MD
Clatsop County Emergency Management, Astoria, OR
City of Flint Police Department, Flint, MI
Galloway Township Police Department, Galloway, NJ
Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma City, OK
Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Salem, OR
Randolph County Emergency Services, Asheboro, NC
St. Louis Emergency Management Agency, St. Louis, MO
San Leandro Police Department, San Leandro, CA
Scarborough Public Safety, Scarborough, ME
Texas Division of Emergency Management, Austin, TX

Hyper-Reach (www.hyper-reach.com) is a mass notification system with over 12 years of experience in emergency messaging.  Hyper-Reach sends messages via automated telephone calls, text messaging (SMS), email, and social media, such as Twitter.  Messages can be created by local personnel or automatically sent, depending on the emergency.  Other uses of Hyper-Reach include Amber alerts, toxic chemical warnings, and armed shooter alerts.  In addition to 911 centers, Hyper-Reach is used by law enforcement, educational institutions, and corporations.

For more information about Hyper-Reach, go to www.hyper-reach.com or call 855-266-8439.

Asher Group Announces Hyper-Reach Express Grants for IPAWS/CMAS Emergency Notification System

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The Asher Group, a leading developer of emergency mass notification systems, is offering ten grants for a full year of CMAS/IPAWS message origination service.

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In December 2011, a new  emergency notification system called CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System) was released by the federal government as part of the new IPAWS system.  Now 911 centers and police in every state can broadcast emergency text messages to anyone within range of selected cell phone towers.   But despite the low cost of the system, adoption was been slow, so far reaching less than 1% of the potential agencies eligible to use the system.

To speed adoption and improve the system, the Asher Group is offering grants of free CMAS/IPAWS origination service throughout 2013, starting in February.  One applicant will be selected in each of the 10 FEMA regions.  To support research in the use of CMAS, participants will be expected to report on their use of the system so that Asher can analyze when agencies choose to use IPAWS and when they use other notification systems.

In addition to free service, participants will receive extra training and support and get special briefings on the study’s progress and final results.

Police, 911 and other emergency management agencies throughout the US are encouraged to apply for these grants by January 31, 2013.  All levels of government are potentially eligible, including towns and cities, counties, regional agencies, states, tribal governments, and cooperative groups of governments that share resources.  Winners will be selected and announced by February 20.

Interested emergency response offices can find an application for the grant at www.surveymonkey.com.  Deadline for application is January 31, 2013.  A complete description of the grant program, including requirements, selection criteria and the service provided to grantees at the grant application site. Questions can be directed to grants@ashergroup.com

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Hyper-Reach Releases IPAWS/CMAS Capable Services

 

Hyper-Reach, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, has released Hyper-Reach Express, a message origination system to enable emergency centers and law enforcement agencies to broadcast “just in time” messages via cell phone text messages to all qualified cell-phones within a geographic area.

The Department of Homeland Security, through FEMA, has been developing an emergency notification system called IPAWS. Using the CMAS portion of the IPAWS system, 911 centers, police and other governmental emergency agencies can now send emergency messages via broadcast text message to anyone within the geographical boundary designated for that message. The message is broadcast directly from cell towers to all cell phones within range, and only those cell users who are in the range of towers where danger is imminent will receive the text. The message is free for both sender and receiver. FEMA manages the IPAWS program and works with qualified emergency notification providers to make this service available. The only cost for local authorities is the software used to send the messages.

Hyper-Reach, a Rochester, NY telephony firm, has developed the software needed for sending IPAWS/CMAS messages anywhere in the US and is offering the software as a service called Hyper-Reach Express(tm).  The service is available on a stand-alone basis or as an added feature of its well-established Hyper-Reach Emergency Notification Service, which provides mass notification to land-line phones, registered cell phones, email and SMS (text) addresses.

Sam Asher, President of Hyper-Reach, emphasizes the speed, reliability and ease of use of the IPAWS/Hyper-Reach service. “In times of emergency, these three factors are what make the difference in providing people a few more crucial minutes to prepare and find safety.” Contact your local police and Emergency 911 Center to discover if they have applied for IPAWS authority. Urge them to take advantage of this latest technology. Read more at http://www.hyper-reach.com or call (855)2-NOTIFY. If you’re on staff at a 911 or police center, read our white paper on IPAWS/CMAS at the Hyper-Reach website and learn more about the next generation of emergency services.  To obtain a copy, call Hyper-Reach or send an email to IPAWS@hyper-reach.com.

Getting Certified As an IPAWS Initiator (MOA)

Although FEMA makes it relatively easy to become an IPAWS message initiator, there are a few rules that must be met and some steps in the process that  emergency offices applying for IPAWS need to understand:

1) Qualified Agencies. Almost any level of government from municipal to Federal is potentially eligible to become an authorized agency. The key in this is the state emergency management contact that FEMA has designated to coordinate which agencies in the state are eligible to be authorized. Here’s a sample of variety of agencies that have qualified for IPAWS:

Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of emergency Management (AK)

Lexington Fayette Urban county Government (KY)

Hawaii State Civil Defense

Monroe County Emergency Services for Monroe County ( NY)

Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency

New Jersey State Police

City of Moreno Valley Emergency Management Agency (CA)

 

The Application process is straightforward. The MOA (Memorandum Of Agreement) application is available through our office or www.FEMA. gov   It’s a two page document simply identifying the applicant agency. In addition the  FEMA application requests an “interoperability software provider”  to be named. Email us at Hyper-Reach  with a request and we will have that portion of the MOA form  completed for you to send to FEMA. An office needs simply to fill out the MOA, include the interoperability software provider sheet and email it to IPAWS@dhs.gov

If you have questions, simply call Hyper-Reach at (585) 586 -0020 and ask for Kiva (8-5pm daily) and you will be supported to get your MOA application in.The approval process at this publication date is approximately a month.

After an office has applied, FEMA will contact the applying office and provide everything needed to finish certification. As more and more agencies apply, FEMA predicts a bottleneck of applications due to the limits of FEMA staff. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asher Group Launches Hyper-Reach Express

In its continuing quest to add to the notification abilities of America’s emergency management agencies, Asher Group is introducing a new offering called Hyper-Reach Express.

Hyper- Reach Express leverages the IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert System) created by FEMA to enable municipal,county, state and other agencies to broadcast emergency alerts to all qualified mobile phones within range of the towers selected for that message distribution. These alerts are specifically formulated messages designed to inform the public quickly of events which meet specified  criteria for urgency, severity and likelihood.

Thanks to the cooperation of most mobile phone carriers,including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, the messages are broadcast with no additional cost to either agencies or the public. Messages can be sent hundreds, thousands or millions of people without concern for cost.

Because these messages are broadcast to all cell phones in range, they reach people regardless of whether they have registered with an agency or even regardless of where they normally live. Visitors to an area can be alerted to an emergency, as can commuters through an area.

Why Choose Hyper-Reach?

In all of our sales materials, we stress ease of use, reliability,budget friendly pricing, all in one packaging of services. We tell people that we’re “big” on remote accessibility (you can use a phone to launch the system from anywhere). We offer a strong customer service component after the sale. All of these things are certainly true and we  stand by them.

But the real reasons that people say yes to The Asher Group, to Hyper-Reach and to Hyper-Reach IPAWS are our guiding principles of work each day. People sense this commitment in us long before they even buy Hyper-Reach and become close working partners with us:

The principles  by which we are guided:

  • Our passions are the source of our strength.
  • There is no thing which could not be done still better.
  • Feedback is the key to perfecting in any field.
  • The purpose of our work is actual benefit for our customers.
  • We aim at harmonious integration of technology with life.
  • We  extend kindness and ease of stress for all who contact us